Diplomacy fails? Military options off the table? Let’s assassinate the scientists

While I for one do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons I think this is disturbing: Iranian nuclear scientist killed in Tehran explosion – latimes.com
So – basically – the decision by some agency or agencies (US, Israeli, others) seems to be – let’s go after the scientists. Why do they do this? Well, because nobody seems to have the skills or desire to develop an international consensus or diplomacy for an alternative response. Not that dealing with Iran would be easy. And not that military options would be good. But sad in many ways that the option of choice is to kill the scientists behind the work. If all other options had been tried – this might be reasonable – but it does not seem to me that all other options have been tried yet …

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

7 thoughts on “Diplomacy fails? Military options off the table? Let’s assassinate the scientists”

  1. There's also people claiming that the scientist are being killed by their own government because they are members of the opposition party. As pointed out here (http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/11/world/asia/iran-scientist-killed/), if Iran is really having their scientists killed by foreign agencies, why aren't they making an effort to protect them? All I am saying is that I very much doubt we have all the details here and looks may be deceiving.


  2. Well, but even if we take the story at face value, how accurate would it be to call this person a “scientist”? I just think that saying “some agency killed a scientist” puts a very different spin on it than saying “some agency killed a member of the Iranian military who was engineering nuclear capabilities”.

    “Scientist” implies someone who has given consideration to the moral consequences of their research.


  3. “If all other options had been tried – this might be reasonable”. Hmm, really? I wouldn't consider killing scientists reasonable, under no circumstances.

    That being said, I am also quite surprised about the politicial inclination of this blog's readership. Actually, some of the statemtents I cannot leave uncommented.

    1) I am not as privy to the victim's research area and its moral consequences as commenter Shaun appears to be, but from what I read, Dr. Roshan was a Phyics lecturer at a Iranian university and very little indication that he was a member of the military.

    2) Why should the Iranians start to kill their scientists one by one? At least thist idea can hardly be decuced from the fact that Iran has failed to protect their scientists. Would the USA be capable of protecting every scientist from an (imaginary) superpower with unlimited financial and military capabilities, which for some reason has decided to kill random scientists who have been rumored to be involved in animal experimentation? Difficult.

    3) And finally, Hugo de Groot. I am not an expert here, but i strongly suspect that the 17th century 'pirate states' were quite different from contemparay Iran. Well, maybe equally keen on executing people for petty offenses, but apart from that?

    Finally, whithout being a big fan of Iranian politics (or anything else Iranian), I can't help but notice that the evidence for Iranian nuclear bomb plans are about as solid as that for WMDs in pre-war Iraq.


  4. Suicyte

    Gonna have to pledge complete brain cramp on this. I have NO IDEA what I was thinking about when I said that “this might be reasonable”. I do not stand by this statement … I wish I knew what I was trying to say … although I suspect I was trying to rationalize an apparently unacceptable act …


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